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ECU Trustee Resigns After Meddling In Student Elections

Liz Schlemmer

The UNC Board of Governors has accepted the resignation of a member of the East Carolina University Board of Trustees. The Board of Governors convened a special meeting to consider sanctions against ECU Trustees Phil Lewis and Robbie Moore for meddling in student government elections.

"Let me be really clear with everybody, I am incredibly disappointed with the leadership at East Carolina," said UNC Board of Governors Chair Randy Ramsey.

Lewis and Moore were recorded trying to bribe recent ECU student Shelby Hudson to run for student body president by offering support for her campaign.

UNC Board of Governors member Marty Kotis moved for Lewis's removal from the Board of Trustees. Kotis cited specific ethics violations as he read from the transcript of Lewis offering Hudson donations and help with billboards and campaign management.

Credit Liz Schlemmer
East Carolina University student Shelby Hudson described her meeting with the ECU Trustees Lewis and Moore before the UNC System Board of Governors.

The ECU Board of Trustees has recently split 7-to-6 on key votes. The student body president is a voting member, and could tip the balance on future votes, amid the search for a new university chancellor.

UNC Board of Governors Chair Ramsey also criticized the way the ECU Board of Trustees Chair Vern Davenport brought his complaint against Lewis and Moore directly to the Board of Governors.

"What we have is a dysfunctional board at East Carolina that has continued to be dysfunctional for numerous years," Ramsey said. "If I could remove the entire board today, I probably would."

Credit Liz Schlemmer
East Carolina University undergraduate student Deyanira Sanchez attended the UNC Board of Governors meeting to consider sanctions against ECU trustees.

ECU students attending the meeting wore purple and passed around a sign that said, "I expect Moore from you."

The UNC Association of Student Governments organized a petition that received 2,500 signatures demanding Lewis and Moore be removed from their positions at ECU.

While the UNC Board of Governors debated Lewis's removal, Governor Reginald Holley encouraged the two trustees to resign.

"I don't know that we can repair the board dysfunction. But I do think we can repair the breach of integrity," Holley said.

Shortly after Holley spoke, Lewis offered his resignation. The Board of Governors voted to censure and reprimand Moore. He will keep his seat on the Board of Trustees but will not be allowed to vote until late September.

The UNC System released a statement saying the Board of Governors will review its procedures for seeking sanctions against university trustees and its policies to prevent tampering of student elections.

Liz Schlemmer is WUNC's Education Reporter, covering preschool through higher education. Email:
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